You can look as hard as you can in the Nine Network’s ratings report
for last night but you will NOT find anything about how the performance
of the much-promoted Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

In short, it bombed. Not even a million viewers in the five major metro markets, beaten by the Australian movie by Phil Noyce, Rabbit-Proof Fence on Seven and the Ten tele-movie Blackjack 11.

Lord of the Rings was watched by just over 960,000 people, which left it in twelfth place on the night, five places behind Rabbit-Proof Fence.

Nine didn’t need the figures from the movie as it won the night from Ten with good performances from National Nine News, You Are What You Eat, 60 Minutes and Backyard Blitz. Australian Idol was the outstanding performer for Ten, followed by Colin Friels in Blackjack.

The bombing of The Lord of the Rings movie will renew debate in
TV land about the worth of the big name movie slotted into Sunday
nights. Ten has already abandoned the idea, preferring to put new and
repeats of Law and Order Criminal Intent and NCIS into the Sunday evening 8.30pm to 10.30pm timeslots.

It has mixed them up with tele-movies such as last night’s Blackjack 11, watched by 1.117 million people, and the Rebecca Gibney effort, Sensing Murder was had a slightly small audience, but still better than a million. And a better result for Ten than of course The Lord of the Rings for Nine.

The problem for Nine was that Lord of the Rings movies have done
well as the box office and on DVD, so those who want to watch them with
the ads in are a smaller group of people than would normally be ready
to watch a movie.

For the producers and studio of Lord of The Rings. free to air TV is not a big income stream. Certainly not as big as a decade ago.

And for the Networks it’s a rapidly declining source of viewers and
will continue to fall as DVDs increase in popularity and the
downloading of movies in real time becomes a better option..

The Ten approach (mimicked by Nine on one Sunday evening recently to
stop Ten’s broadcast of the ARIAs from rating too highly) has proven to
be far more popular with viewers.

Movies have had their day in the shape of the US or UK cinema blockbuster.

But tele-movies, such as The Alice and Big Reef, both for Nine, did far better. And, although they cost more than the fee paid for Lord of the Rings, the reaction from viewers was far more enthusiastic.

The performance though of Rabbit Proof-Fence is a reminder to
Australian film makers that there is life after the cinema and DVD,
for movies with a good, solid story and acting, not the current
crop of angst riddled award winners.

So will Nine jump into Ten’s camp, leaving Seven alone. Probably not,
yet. Because Nine doesn’t really have anything solid it can slot into
Sunday nights and make a ratings winner, unless it puts the CSI-New York series (the third CSI series) there.

So back to Sunday night, Nine won nationally, but the ABC did very
well, and probably cost Nine a win in Melbourne and hurt them in Perth.

In Perth, Seven sprang a surprise with a strong win on what is one of the Network’s weakest nights.

Seven ended up with a 27.3% share in Perth, from Ten with 26% and Nine
back in third with 25.3%.That was due to a telethon for a local
institution that ended at 8.30pm local time on Sunday. But the ABC had
a high 18.7% share in Perth.

That result was very much against the trend nearly everywhere else.
Nationally Nine won with a 28.2% share from Ten with 27.3% and Seven
with 23.2%. The ABC had a high 18.2%, thanks in part to Amber. SBS had a low 3.1%.

In Sydney a similar result, with Nine on 28.1%, Ten on 27.9%, the ABC
on 23.1%, the ABC on a high 18% and SBS on a very low 2.9%.

But in Melbourne Seven pipped Nine, 27.7% to 26.8%, with Seven on 23.% and the ABC on 19.4%

The ABC history program Rewind did very well in its last
program, topping 595,000 viewers and making a mockery of the Denise
Eriksen and Sandra Levy idea to axe it.

And in Melbourne, the Victorian-based travelogue show, Coxy’s Big Break sprang possibly the major shock of the night, easily beating the well performed Backyard Blitz of Nine. Coxy‘s effort attracted around 357,000 viewers, compared to Blitz‘s 311,000 or so, a clear win and will raise the question, is the Nine program showing a few whiskers?

The top programs nation all were Idol with 2.31 million, more than 800,000 viewers ahead of Nine News, You Are What You Eat was third, 60 Minutes was fourth and Backyard Blitz was fifth. Seven News was sixth, Rabbit-Proof Fence was seventh, the ABC 7pm News was eighth, the Ten tele-movie, Blackjack 11 was ninth and the Amber special of David Attenborough was tenth.

In Sydney it was Idol, then You are What You Eat, Backyard Blitz, 60 Minutes, Nine News. Rabbit Proof Fence was sixth, ahead of Blackjack 11, The ABC News, the Amber Time Machine special and Seven News, which was tenth.

And finally, apart from Idol, the viewing figures for most other
programs, but especially those in the late afternoon and early evening
were hurt by daylight saving.